Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wireless Internet access in downtown Sarasota

News from 82 Degrees Tech

Media Contact: Heidi Smith, Heidi Smith Communications Inc., 941.504.2803
82 Degrees Tech: Dan Miller, president, 941.870.0078
Sarasota County: Bob Hanson, CIO, 941.861.5418

May 9, 2005

Regional tech group and Sarasota County partner to expand public
wireless Internet access in downtown Sarasota

A newly formed regional technology group and Sarasota County government have launched an expanded system providing wireless public access to the Internet in downtown Sarasota, according to Dan Miller, president of 82 Degrees Tech.

“The partnership of 82 Degrees Tech and the county is ‘lighting up’ most of downtown with this no-cost service designed to spin off a host of innovative economic development opportunities while local governments use the system to gain efficiencies in their field operations,” said Miller. 82 Degrees Tech is a new technology group that combines previously separate efforts of three different organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties. 82 Degrees refers to the longitudinal line that goes through both counties, as well as the area’s balmy climate.

The wireless system, dubbed “Downtown Unplugged,” allows users with wireless-capable laptop computers to access the Internet at no charge throughout much of downtown, from Washington Boulevard west to Bird Key. Previously, a small-scale pilot project with less advanced technology allowed wireless Internet access just in Selby Five Points Park and the Selby Public Library.

“As the technology provider, Sarasota County government hopes to stimulate mobile use of the Internet that will help people do work, provide services to visitors, and expand economic and learning opportunities,” said Bob Hanson, Sarasota County’s chief information officer and a director of 82 Degrees Tech. “The participants in 82 Degrees Tech will work to leverage this technology in exciting ways, and we’ll seek to expand the service to neighborhoods that have been under-served by Internet access.”

The county does not necessarily intend to establish the system as a permanent public service, he said, but is working with 82 Degrees Tech and other community groups and local businesses to determine the best ways to provide such technologies throughout the county. Hanson said the system is not designed to replace service inside homes and businesses, but for use by public service organizations and to help people involved in economic development determine the value of having such access in the community’s activity centers.

Instructions for Using “Downtown Unplugged” Internet Access
Use your wireless-capable computer to scan for wireless networks in the downtown area. Select the network called “unplugged” and click “connect”. Launch your Internet browser, accept the Unplugged user agreement, and you’ll arrive at the Downtown Unplugged web page. You’re ready to surf the web.

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